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A New York judge has ruled that Internet service provider RoadRunner must reveal the identity of a customer who sent email to the Public Relations Society of America’s board of directors, claiming that the Public Relations Society of America’s executive director, Catherine A. Bolton, was not fit for the position.
The anonymous sender, labelled “Doe” in the lawsuit now being pursued by both Bolton and the PRSA, is apparently an employee or former employee of the Public Relations Society of America, and claimed in the email that Bolton “is a fast-talking nonstrategic PR person. She cannot manage or lead an organization. Her quarterly reports to staff are garbage, often met with rolling eyes.”
The Court, in ruling that Bolton (although not the PRSA) had met the legal requirements necessary to compel the disclosure of the sender’s identity, held that Bolton had demonstrated that there was an action for defamation, her request had been targeted and specific, that she needed the information, and that there was no other way to obtain the information, and this was weighed against Doe’s likely expectation of privacy.
Of course, the conundrum here is that the truth is a defense to a charge of defamation. How ironic it will be if after all of this, it turns out that the allegations in the email were absolutely true!
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